Did Donald Trump Copy His Hairstyle From Nature?


We played Spyglass and Pebble last Sunday, at Maggie McFly’s. Here’s Mike B., holding the stick for me on the second green at Pebble:


The weather had been so bad that playing anywhere but on the simulators wasn’t a possibility. Then the weather got worse. The snowstorm that the Weather Channel had such a cow about earlier this week turned out to be a dud in our part of New England, but we still got six or seven inches Then on Friday morning we got a few more. As a consequence, I’ve spent a lot of time staring at a bird feeder my wife gave me for one of the windows in my office —which our dog has also been interested in. Anyway, I think I’ve figured out where my close personal friend Donald Trump got his hairstyle: nuthatches.




I mentioned in a recent post that Jägermeister’s official sponsorship of the Sunday Morning Group had had a measurable impact on sales because Other Gene’s wife had ordered some in a restaurant and a non-golf-playing bridge partner of mine in Mississippi was thinking about buying a bottle. I’d now like to update those results: my non-golf-playing bridge partner in Mississippi not only did buy a bottle; he also served it to three people he has been teaching to play bridge:


“Each of the guys said he hadn’t drunk any since college,” my friend reported. “The one with the baseball cap said his first and only experience with it had been at a Cornell fraternity party he went to his freshman year. He drank so much that night that he ended up throwing up from a balcony at the front of the fraternity house, and a crowd gathered below to cheer him on. The other guy said his story was similar, but he didn’t tell it.” They’re grown-ups now, though, and I think I can safely put all four of them in the plus column, along with Other Gene’s wife.

Let’s check that bird feeder again:


A Ghost Course in Central Florida, and a Golf Trip to the Twilight Zone

The former Winter Springs Golf Course, Winter Springs, Florida.

Part of the former Winter Springs Golf Club, Winter Springs, Florida. The cart barn, clubhouse, and parking lot are near the bottom of the image, just right of center.

A common experience for Florida golfers in recent years: trying to make a tee time at a golf course they’ve heard good things about, and discovering that the phone has been disconnected and the Web domain is for sale. An example is Winter Springs Golf Club, which went belly-up in 2006. I was in the Orlando area last weekend, on a Golf Digest assignment, and decided to have a look. Here’s the clubhouse, as it appears from the main parking lot:

IMG_0810Apparently, someone bought the course with the idea of building houses on it, and only then discovered that a deed restriction made that impossible. (Due diligence!) Now it sits.

IMG_0817The old club had a lighted driving range. Here’s what it looks like now:

IMG_0837While I was snooping around, a policeman noticed my car and drove in to see what I was doing. He called in my driver’s license number, to make sure I wasn’t wanted for something. Then we chatted about golf for a while, and he asked me whether another ten or fifteen minutes of trespassing would be enough. I thanked him, and he suggested that I stay out of the clubhouse.

Here's the back of the clubhouse. Those particle-board sheets cover the windows of what used to be the grill room and the golf shop.

Here’s the back of the clubhouse. Those particle-board sheets cover the windows of what used to be the restaurant and the golf shop.

It doesn’t take long for a golf hole to turn into something that isn’t recognizable as a golf hole. Here’s the first tee, the first fairway, and what’s left of the first-hole cart path:IMG_0822 That hole was a straightaway par 5. According to the sign, there were four tee positions:IMG_0827

Florida probably still has too many golf courses. Even so, it’s sad to see the ruins of a place where you know at least a few of the regulars felt more at home than they did at home.

IMG_0843Meanwhile, here in Connecticut, the golf courses might as well be in receivership. This is what my back yard looked like on Thursday afternoon, when the storm was still only getting started:


And here’s how things looked on Friday morning. (The doghouse on the right, which is on top of a wall, belonged to one of the three cats that lived in our yard for many years.)


My wife and I have been throwing birdseed into the snow, and attracting mainly juncos and cardinals. When the seed runs low, the birds send an emissary to the back door to complain. When I got up this morning, there were junco footprints on the doormat:


I tossed out a double load, and a few minutes later the birds were back:


Birds really do this, incidentally. During the summer, when our hummingbird feeder runs out, a hummingbird will fly up to the window closest to the computer in my wife’s office, on the second floor, and hover there until she notices.

Same back yard, with hummingbird, in better times.

Same back yard, with hummingbird, in better times.

The wife of one of my golf buddies told me that when the feeder runs out at her house a hummingbird will fly, in sequence, to windows in the rooms where she can usually be found during the day: kitchen, bedroom, laundry room. After I’d fed the birds, I re-shoveled the path to the back door:


Last week, my friends and I had no choice but to return to the simulators at Maggie McFly’s—which, I’m sorry to report, are showing their age. Our round lasted at least a half-hour longer than it should have, because the sensors had trouble picking up the balls. Still, it was golf. And, because Ferris had never played on a simulator before, we picked Pebble Beach. Here’s Rick, lining up a putt on the twelfth:

20140207_165317-001Spookily, the golf tournament on TV, which we watched between shots, was also at Pebble Beach, and there were quite a few occasions when the hole we were playing was exactly the same hole they were showing on TV—in this case, the thirteenth:

20140207_165321-001It was pretty darned eerie.

Golf Periscope Update

Periscope woman 3-17-2013

Steve Davis, whom I met at Tiger Woods’s World Challenge back in December, has been tweaking and field-testing his golf periscope, which is considered by some to be the most important golf-related invention of the current century—and not only because it has a shoulder strap and a beer holder. Last weekend, he took it to the Toshiba Classic, in Newport Beach, California, an event on the Champions Tour. “I was following the final group Sunday,” he told me in an email. “There was this little old lady who couldn’t see anything. She understood right away how the periscope worked. The smile that produced was priceless. It was my feel-good moment of the day—and we were only at the first green.”

Steve Davis and his periscope at the Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines Golf Course, La Jolla, California, where, he reports, "Tiger was Tiger of old."

Steve Davis and his periscope at the Farmers Insurance Open, at Torrey Pines Golf Course, in La Jolla, California–where, he reports, “Tiger was Tiger of old.”

Davis apparently spends all his time either working on his periscope or trying it out at golf tournaments. He watched Tiger win at Torrey Pines in January (photo above). And last month he attended the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which Brandt Snedeker won. In another email, Davis sounded almost disappointed that there weren’t more people standing between him and the action. “The big surprise was how small the crowd at Pebble was,” he wrote. “We could stand alongside the green on almost every hole. It got crowded only around the end, at 16, 17, and 18.” The photo below was taken at the AT&T, and it shows him holding a modified version of the device I tried at the World Challenge. The differences may not be obvious to a layman, but they are significant. “I have a new system and have been having problems with it,” Davis confided, “so I’m having trouble trusting it.”

AT&T ProAm Pebble Beach 2013

Davis also took his periscope to the Northern Trust Open, at Riviera, last month. “What can I say with a two-playoff-hole victory for Merrick’s first tour win?” The guy on the right in the photo below, which was taken at Riviera, looks to me like he was contemplating a smash-and-grab, but apparently he was just eyeing Davis’s beer.

2013 Northern Trust Play Off

More periscope news as it develops.

Playing Golf Indoors at Maggie McFly’s

Carl Matz wagon 1891.BMP

The blizzard that was supposed to pummel New England this weekend was a bust, at least as far as my town is concerned. We had a soft drizzle on Sunday morning, but that was as close as we came to getting buried under two feet of snow. The storm was still in the forecast when my friends and I made our weekend plans, though, so I ended up spending the day paying bills, doing the crossword, and obsessively touching up some old photographs that I borrowed from my mother last week, in Kansas City. The guy in the photograph above is my grandfather, in 1891, at the age of three. He never played golf, but he did join a country club, eventually. That’s the only connection I can think of. I like the picture, though.

This doesn't look like a golf course, but it is one. I don't know who that car belongs to. Some guy with head covers on his irons, probably.

This doesn’t look like a golf course, but it is one. I don’t know who that fancy car belongs to. Some guy with head covers on his irons, probably.

Two weeks ago, Hacker (real name) reserved one of the three simulators at Maggie McFly’s, a restaurant and bar not far from where we live. We first played there three winters ago, when snow covered the ground for months and we couldn’t find anyplace to play on grass. Since then, the simulators have become so popular that the only tee time we could get was for Wednesday afternoon.


Simulator technology has improved tremendously since the first time I played indoors, in the early 1990s. As always, you hit shots toward a picture on a screen, and a computer takes over once the ball is in the air. What has changed is the sophistication of the imagery and the accuracy with which the sensors pick up your ball’s velocity, trajectory, and spin. The machine we played was manufactured by a company called aboutGolf and is endorsed by the PGA Tour. It’s what you see on the Golf Channel.

That's Rick.

That’s Rick, getting ready to hit a lob over a bunker. It’s a shot he’s good at because–unfairly, some would say–he practices.

In the past, we’ve played Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and the Old Course at St. Andrews, among other courses you may have heard of. This time we played the TPC at Sawgrass. Here’s what the famous 17th hole looks like when you’re standing on the fringe at the back of the green, looking toward the tee. I had a birdie putt, which I just missed:


Simulator putting takes some getting used to: to read the breaks, you have to analyze the movements of dozens of virtual marbles rolling around on a projected grid that looks like a college-textbook illustration of the curvature of space-time. Once you get used to it, though, you begin to wish your home course had virtual marbles, too. Here’s Hacker—who was my partner—reading one of the many critical putts he drained:


The simulators at Maggie McFly’s are great, because they’re in wood-paneled rooms that look like something you’d find in a fancy clubhouse. A waiter brought us beers and cheeseburgers, and there were four guys in the room next to ours who looked almost exactly like us, and if we had been able to figure out how to turn on the TV we would have been able to watch the football game. And about an hour into our round a woman with a cane walked in and sat down on our couch: our first gallery ever!

IMG_0178Her name is Linda, and she’s seventy-two years old. She said there was going to be karaoke at Maggie McFly’s that night, a favorite of hers, but that she would probably go home for a nap at some point, rather than hanging around for eight hours. Her husband, who died fifteen years ago, was an engineer. He worked on the Manhattan Project (though not on the bomb part) and on the Suez Canal, and he was a champion skeet shooter.


She said she had played a little golf when she was younger but hadn’t swung a club since sometime in the nineteen-seventies. She was very interested in how the simulator worked, and when we tried to explain it we sounded the way I did when my son, at the age of three or four, asked me what makes the car go. At one point, the manager came in to tell her to beat it, but we had already bought her a drink so we told him to beat it. I happened to mention that the following day was going to be my birthday, and when we weren’t paying attention she ordered dessert for all four of us. I got to pick the one I wanted, and then a waitress put a candle in it and lit it.

IMG_0199Linda wanted to try the simulator, so as soon as Hacker and I had wiped out Rick and Gary we gave her Hacker’s three-wood and let her rip a few. She went right under the first one, but after that she nailed it, repeatedly:


The only problem with simulator golf is that it’s the opposite of exercise, because between shots you don’t walk anywhere, or even climb in and out of a cart; you just plop down on the couch and steal a few more of Gary’s french fries.


My brother, John, used to play in a winter simulator league at a health club in Brooklyn. He said that it was embarrassing to stand around drinking beer and eating Doritos while beautiful women in butt-floss leotards trotted back and forth between the racquetball courts and the Nautilus machines. He suggested that the club install a treadmill next to the golf simulators, so that you could pick up your bag and pretend to walk to your ball while you waited for your turn to hit. That way, at least, you’d break a sweat.

This may be a direct reference to an early customer--a cop!--who took a whiz in a potted plant and was banished for life.

This may be a direct reference to an early customer–a cop!–who took a whiz in a potted plant and was banished for life.